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Why Do We Become Unfit? Here’s How To Maintain Fitness

3rd May 2023

3rd May 2023

By Beth Shelper

We’ve all been there – your rest day lasted a little bit too long. Talk about rest week, or maybe even rest month(s). Now you’re stuck in the vicious cycle of wanting to get back into it, but not wanting to get back into it because you just know that you’ve lost some of that all-important progress that you made in terms of fitness, stamina and technique.

Don’t worry – it’s totally normal. And more so something that we’ve all struggled with. But why does exercise get harder when we’ve been doing less? What is the science behind becoming unfit?

Well, Leeds University have provided the answers. The answers we’ve all been waiting for, more accurately.

But first, what do we technically mean by ‘unfit’ and is it truly feasible to always maintain fitness? Why is it that exercise gets harder?

Here’s what ‘unfit’ really means

When one describes a physically unfit person, there are a few key signs and features that are considered. It’s important to note that being described as unfit isn’t a personal or even negative description, just one that considers physical and psychological attributes and abilities.

Key signs of an ‘unfit’ person include:

  • Laboured breathing
  • Chronic illness
  • Excess weight
  • Insomnia
  • A high resting heart rate
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure

The study: why exercise gets harder the less you do

The brand-new study released by students from The University of Leeds investigates the age-old conundrum around a decrease in performance and ability following a lack of exercise.

The study was conducted through the observation of mice, chosen due to our sharing of a particular protein: Piezo1, a blood flow sensor that is thought to have a pretty large impact on the transportation of blood to the muscles, and as a result, of course, on our performance during exercise.

The study (and the mice) highlighted a crucial link between exercise and the production of the Piezo1 protein, showing that the less exercise we do, the less of this protein is produced, and thus when we do eventually reengage in said exercise, it’s levels are limited.

Aka – exercise gets harder because our ability to exercise reduces from a scientific perspective. This shows its actually nothing to do with motivation at all, either.

So, how can we maintain fitness?

From these findings, and from our understanding of health and wellness, its clear that maintaining fitness is pretty important. We’re only human, and we all slip up from time-to-time, but by putting in that extra bit of effort, we can make things easier for ourselves in the long run.

If you’re struggling to get fitter or to maintain your motivation, try out some of the below tips and remember whilst you should always push yourself to do better, it’s just as important to listen to your body and rest when you need it. That’s all part of progress, too.

  • Keep it up, little and often

When we talk about exercise, that doesn’t always have to mean an extended session at the gym, all-day every day. It’s all about getting examples of exercise in little and often.

Walk to the corner shop rather than drive, take advantage of your lunch break and go on a quick walk, get outside and go for a short run around the block, or even cycle to work (where you can) when the weather is nice.

These are all great examples of integrating exercise into your routine in a realistic and manageable way!

  • Set realistic goals

If you haven’t been on a run in a little while and you’re thinking of running a marathon next week, we’re going to go out on a limb here and say it’s probably not the best idea. Aside from setting yourself up for a pretty painful experience, it’s quite likely that you’ll injure yourself here.

So, whilst its admirable that you’re setting your sights and expectations high – and whilst we have no doubt that you’ll get to that marathon finishing line following a good training regime, make sure that the goals you set are realistic, and you’re able to hit them often to keep those motivation levels tip-top.

  • Create attractive rewards

If you planned to go to the gym 3 times this week and you went 3 times: you’ve got to reward yourself. Whether that’s an extra 30 minutes in bed, a cheeky extra treat on the shopping list, or even that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing up online, treat yo’ self! It’s all about recognising your achievements and rewarding yourself for them.

  • Bring a buddy

Exercising can be boring if you’re lacking the motivation, but you’d be surprised how much your mood changes if you bring a friend along for the ride. Whether its your parent, friend, colleague or even your dog that joins you for that evening run around the park, you don’t always have to go solo.

  • Fuel yourself sufficiently

Exercising too hard can leave you feeling completely depleted of energy, and actually be detrimental to your physical development. Make sure you're feeding your body with ingredients that will help you to recover and replenish fully to avoid injuries that might take you off course for longer than you'd hope. Try The Recover Capsules to give your body the nutrients it needs, along with a protein blend to support muscle recovery and development. 

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The Best Exercises To Improve Your Rowing PB
Whether a seasoned gym addict, first-time fitness enthusiast, or avid water goer, there’s nothing quite like smashing your rowing PB. While it might look intimidating to begin, it’s much simpler, addictive, and most importantly, beneficial to your body than beginners might think. Like any workout PB however, there can reach a point where your best time seems to plateau. After all, there are only so many times you can improve right? Well not necessarily. In addition to a high protein diet and the use of fitness supplements like The Power Booster to aid performance, there are a wide range of exercises to try that can improve rowing endurance, power, and technique. By the end, getting a faster rowing PB should be a breeze. The Benefits Of Rowing Firstly, it’s important to ask; should you go for a PB in the first place? Short answer: absolutely! Rowing offers a complete high-intensity exercise all without skipping a beat; just a single session will train 9 of your muscle groups and around 85% of your body’s muscles. Compared to other workouts, this builds strength and endurance within key muscles in the upper and lower body. While achieving that rowing PB can be tough, being able to endure the challenge and feel the muscle growth is an unmatched workout joy. The versatility of rowing means everyone from cardio lovers to arm day enthusiasts can look forward to smashing their next PB. Rowing workouts are also low-impact and kind to your individual joints. This makes it the perfect PB challenge for those recovering from, and looking to avoid persistent injury - or perhaps even the dreaded shin splints. The exercise also provides mental benefits for the individual through the release of endorphins (the body’s feel-good hormones).   Exercises To Improve Your PB So how do you go about improving your PB? Well because rowing utilizes a complete range of muscles, getting a better time is all about targeting these individual parts of the body. This requires a mix of all types of workouts from cardio and core to strength training. Cardio Workouts To bring rowing performance to the next level, it’s almost essential to incorporate a strong aerobic focus into your exercise. Given the repetitive and continuous motions required with rowing, it’s easy to get stuck in the trap of pushing yourself too much – especially when it comes to striving for a PB. Cardio performance exercises are a fantastic method to build your rowing endurance, improve your heart health, and simply just lift your mood. For the best results, we’d recommend a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio (SSC) workouts. High-Intensity Interval Training HIIT exercises are all about raising the heart rate and building strength and stamina. They balance short but maximum-intensity workouts with rest intervals – think short sprints, fast cycling, and squat jumps. This makes HIIT an important tool to improve cardio capabilities and smash that rowing PB goal. Steady State Cardio SSC workouts on the other hand focus on continuous but long-term workouts. Instead of 2-minute short sprints of high intensity, you might take a light 30-minute jog for a consistent heart rate. These exercises have the benefit of improving your endurance levels and making it easier to continue rowing until hitting your distance target.     Strength Training While debates continue to rage about whether rowing is a cardio exercise – we’re firmly of the it is camp – strength plays just as vital a role as endurance. Regardless of whether you row 500, 1000, 2000 metres, or beyond, there will always be a mental balance required between the rowing strength you exert per rep and the overall distance remaining. By improving key muscles through strength training, you can reduce the effort and difficulty on each row to improve speed and overall performance. Given the full body sequence of actions used in rowing, we’d recommend you focus your workout on 3 key areas: legs, core, and arms.         Leg Exercises Your leg contains some of the strongest muscles in the body. Given its importance to strong rowing performance, it’s not exactly surprising that we’re recommending you incorporate leg exercises into your fitness routine. This is especially true at the rowing catch point - the end point of each row – where the greatest leg force is required. To improve leg muscle strength, we recommend simple but effective exercises like squats, lunges, and targeted deadlift sessions.     Core Exercises While it might not be completely obvious, your core muscles – the stomach and lower back muscles - play a pivotal part in maintaining your posture and improving your rowing PB. They are especially important in supporting rowing form toward the end of the workout when you begin to tire. A strong core also minimises the workload on other muscles that would otherwise have to work harder to compensate for a weak core. Core workouts are also simple to do whether at home or the gym. Just some ideas include plants, hip bridges, and Pilate ab crunches. Arm Exercises Arm strength also plays a significant role in maintaining rowing form, albeit slightly different depending on whether you’re at the gym or treading the waters. For water goers, the arms act as a messenger of sorts. They transfer the power generated from the leg and core muscles into the rowing oar and push the boat forward – a fairly important element to achieving any sort of distance. For the motivated gym goer, strong arms can provide well-defined concentric and eccentric muscle movements that benefit form. To focus on improving arm muscle strength, there are plenty of exercises you to try. Just some effective choices are bicep curl and triceps extension workouts, but you can even try something as simple as home push-ups (which will also help in improving core strength). The Importance Of Technique, Rest, And Recovery With all this said, a key and often overlooked part of improving a rowing PB is simply getting the basics - effective form and technique before, during, and after any exercise – down. Consider adding some simple and easy stretches before a session to effectively warm up your muscles and best prepare your body. Likewise, you could have all the endurance tools you need to succeed, but a poor rowing technique could see you waste unnecessary energy. Efficiency is key here. The other added benefit of good form is that it greatly reduces the chance of any injuries which let’s face it, is quite important to training and smashing the next PB. As someone who has gone for a personal best on many occasions, I can agree that this last part can be the most difficult, but achieving a PB is all about planning rest and recovery days into your training. Listening to your body here can be crucial. Pushing too hard increases the risk of overtraining, potentially leading to injury. To this end, it can make it easier to think of recovery as another stage of the workout process. Remember, rest days don’t necessarily mean you have to do nothing all day. Gentle exercises like walks and even yoga can work wonders for body recovery. Interested to discover more about Innermost Power Booster Supplements? Looking for the best ways to fuel your next workout? Perhaps you have some amazing and inspired ideas to share? Don’t hesitate to message us on our Instagram @liveinnermost. Read more
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